In a rematch of the 2016 Wimbledon final, Serena Williams will attempt to win her eighth Wimbledon against Angelique Kerber, who is looking for her first title at the Championships. Much has changed since that match, most notably for Williams, who had her first child last September. That she has returned so swiftly to a Grand Slam final is an astonishing achievement. But she will face a stern test indeed against Angelique Kerber. Who will win the title?
Kerber and Williams have met eight times in a rivalry that began in 2007 at the US Open in the first round. Williams won that one 6-3 7-5, and has claimed a further five victories to Kerber’s two. Their two most recent meetings both came in Slam finals in 2016. In the first, Kerber stunned the tennis world by defeating Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4 to claim her maiden Major in Melbourne. Williams had her revenge in the aforementioned Wimbledon final, winning 7-5 6-3.
Path to the final
Williams began her Wimbledon campaign with a confident 7-5 6-3 win over Arantxa Rus, though she was not quite at her best. She then dismissed Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-4 6-1 before beating Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 7-6 in a close third round match. She backed that up by dominating Evgeniya Rodina 6-2 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. There she overcame Camila Giorgi from a set down before knocking out a nervous-looking Julia Goerges 6-2 6-4 in the German’s Grand Slam semifinal debut.
Kerber’s first match at the Championships pitted her against 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva, with the German winning 7-5 6-3. She then recovered from dropping the first set to beat the highly-rated American teenager Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-4 before crushing Naomi Osaka 6-2 6-4. That was followed by impressive straight sets victories over Belinda Bencic, 6-3 7-6, and Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 7-5, to reach the last four. There she brushed aside 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3.
How do they match up?
There are few who can live with the power that Williams can bring to the court. Her serve is one of the biggest in the history of the women’s game and is superbly accurate as well. The American can also hurt opponents from both the forehand and backhand side, giving her an arsenal off the ground most can only dream of. Her movement is also generally excellent, with her ability to use the ball at the end of her range allowing her to turn defence into attack with just one shot.
Kerber cannot match Williams for power, especially when stepping to the line. But the German is a better mover and has offensive capabilities of her own. They are centred around her forehand, which is amongst the most accurate in the sport and allows her to work opponents over despite lacking in power compared with some others at the top of the game. Both women are also competent finishers at the net, and will likely look to take advantage of that and move forward whenever they can.
Were Williams’ to lift the title after Saturday’s final, it would not only be a fairy tale win matched by few others in sporting history, but also serve as an everlasting monument to her greatness. But as well as Williams has played so far, she has not yet come up against an opponent of Kerber’s quality. The eleventh seed has arguably been playing the better tennis, with her performances against Osaka and Ostapenko standouts. Expect her to tame Williams’ power and win in three.